Angelenos in Wilshire Center are traveling to work, to school, to visit friends and shopping by way of the MTA mass transit system, local Smart Shuttle system, DASH, and by foot. Surrounding the transit stops are high-activity, livable, pedestrian oriented neighborhoods that are linked to other neighborhoods via rail, bus and other modes of transportation. This pedestrian-oriented neighborhood is identified by compact development that provides for a full range of economic and social services, including housing, ground floor retail, community and entertainment facilities, grocery stores and cafes. Wilshire Center is vital, active and moreover, this area contains a safe and clean environment with attractive settings for living and working. By integrating life around MTA transit, Wilshire Center and the City of Los Angeles have the opportunity to reduce automobile congestion and consequently to better the City's air quality, provide a more efficient land use pattern and create a better quality of life for all Los Angeles residents. Besides the net reduction of internally generated traffic, a good jobs/housing balance strengthens the sense of community and neighborhood and provides for a better overall environment both socially and economically.
IMPLEMENTATION: In 1995 the City of Los Angeles Planning Department, in cooperation with the Wilshire Center Urban Design Taskforce of the Wilshire Center/Koreatown Citizen Advisory Committee of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA LA) along with many other community individuals and groups initiated a cooperative planning effort to update the Wilshire Community Plan. This Community Plan Update (CPU) was designed to encourage wise growth, provide appropriate locations for development, minimize lengthy, discretionary approvals, and provide a certainty and predictability for developers, homeowners, and anyone else concerned with future development of Wilshire Center and the surrounding area.
BACKGROUND: Wilshire Center is a long established commercial and residential district in the core of Los Angeles. It is an exciting and vital area where people work and/or live adjacent to transportation links to all of L.A.'s business, residential, and cultural areas. Wilshire Center is a Regional Center for various interrelated commercial office, shopping, residential, and cultural activities. It is generally bounded by 3rd Street on the north, Hoover Street on the east, 8th Street on the south, and Wilton Place on the west (L.A. Wilshire District Plan, est. 1976).
HISTORY: Gaylord Wilshire created the first stretch of Wilshire Boulevard in 1895, the birth of Wilshire Center. In 1920 the Wilshire Chamber of Commerce was formed. The Ambassador Hotel opened its doors in 1921. In 1929 Bullocks Wilshire was built at Wilshire and Westmoreland. The Wiltern Theatre opened in 1931. In 1952 the first high-rise office building was built at Wilshire and Normandie. Between 1966 and 1976 some 22 office buildings were built in Wilshire Center. Then in the 1980's L.A.'s Planning Dept. designated an area south of Wilshire Center as Koreatown - , 8th Street on the north, Vermont on the east, 11th on the south, and Western on the west; with Olympic and Normandie as the centerpiece.
REVITALIZATION: In the 1990's the revitalization program began. The first program was the construction of the Metro Red line which opened in 1996, allowing people a quick ride to Downtown, Long Beach, LAX, and eventually to Hollywood and Universal City. Central Plaza along with the Radisson Hotel (today the Wilshire Plaza Hotel) and Southwestern University spent millions of dollars on refurbishing their buildings. In 1993 the planning began for the $6 million Streetscape Project with the planting of more than 2000 trees, and with new sidewalks, medians, crosswalks and signage which was completed in the Spring of 1998. In 1995 the Wilshire Cente/Koreatown Redevelopment Project Area was created. The Wilshire Center Business Improvement Corporation was formed in 1995 and in the same year City Council established the Wilshire Center Business Improvement District (WCBID) and appointed the Corporation's Board of Directors as the Advisory Board of the WCBID. WCBID funded a new private security patrol for the area. In 1997 Smart Shuttle, Inc., operating under a grant from LADOT, began weekday service throughout Wilshire Center.
PROFILE: The greater Wilshire Center encompasses a three-mile radius from Normandie and Wilshire. The total employment is about 488,000 with about 636,000 residents. It has Los Angeles' most ethnically and economically diverse population. Wilshire Center is located in West Central Los Angeles.
BENEFITS: Wilshire Center provides the best value in office and retail space in Los Angeles with some of the largest available spaces in L.A. Wilshire has the best access to and from here by major streets, freeways, and Metro Purple Line (three stations within easy walking distance of all businesses along Wilshire).
It has the best value in housing for employees with some of the best private schools in L.A. Wilshrie is one of the safest areas in Los Angeles. It is an attractive area due to its architecture, urban form and streetscape elements. The Center offers the best value for new development in retail, entertainment, and housing. Wilshire Center's urban size allows jobs, housing, daily needs and other activities to be within easy walking distance to each other and to transit stops. Frank Gehry, a world renowned architect, said "The real downtown of L.A. is linear, it's Wilshire Boulevard."
GOAL: Create a place that provides jobs, retail, entertainment, restaurants, cultural facilities, civic facilities, housing and other services. Promote pedestrian activity and provide a livable community for all.
OBJECTIVE: Reinforce existing and encourage the development of a new Wilshire Center that accommodates a broad range of uses that serve, provide job opportunities, and are accessible to the residents, workers, and region, are compatible with adjacent land uses, and are developed to enhance urban lifestyles.
POLICIES: Accommodate intensity of activity and incorporate retail uses in the ground floor of existing and new structures that would induce considerable pedestrian activity. Increase the density generally within one quarter to one half mile of the transit stations. Encourage mixed use development through the development of ground floor retail use, sidewalk cafes, libraries, cultural facilities and other services. Promote a diversity of housing types to enable citizens from a wide range of economic levels and age groups to live within Wilshire Center. Public spaces should be designed to encourage the attention and presence of people at all hours of the day and night.